1) How are you doing after almost 5 months on the road?
We’re doing fine. Thanks for asking! Not as slender and physically fit as we’d hoped to be at the end of this summer, but doing really well! Thankfully, the adjustment to being on the road has been much easier than expected, kind of like slipping on a well-worn jean jacket for the first time. Considering all the ups and downs (and the often extremely close quarters) I think we’re doing a bang-up job of keeping it together. We try to have fun and eat well (obviously) and explore as much as we can. Being on the move helps as well. We are immersed in a constant stream of new people, vistas and ideas.
Honestly, I think other people have been our saving grace, providing the greatest surprises and the most help, often unintentionally. Entering the homes and lives of a variety of families has given me a new appreciation for the individuality of humans and for our commonalities as well. Also, quite frankly, living with others helps me get out of my navel and engage in community. Add to that the simple fact that there are all these fascinating, hard-working, and unique people in the world. Seriously, I’m shocked by the sheer open-heartedness, passion and dedication of our host families and the earnest helpfulness of the strangers we’ve met along our path. It’s amazing and it gives my cynical streak a run for her money.
As you can see from the action shot above, Mattie’s also doing great! She’s playing with other dogs, running and jumping. Thanks again to Dr. Cook in Springfield, KY for doing such a great job setting her leg!
2) Where are you now?
We are currently in the midst of a two-week stint at Falcon Ridge Farm in central Missouri. It is a beautiful, orderly spread with a log cabin main house, horses, goats, pigs, chickens, bantams, dogs, cats and that rare farm species, the American teenager. Off the front porch, past fields for grazing, you see mostly trees, with low sloping hills here and there. It’s beautiful. This is probably the most isolated place we’ve been since we left Hannah and Jesse’s Roughdraft Farmstead in Gamaliel, KY. The nearest banking option is 148 miles away. The nearest town with a supermarket is a 30 minute drive. And we love it! I’ve been working in the garden with Wendy, the farmer, and, as usual, JC has been fixing things. We butchered AND CANNED chickens on Friday. (I had no idea you could can meat, but apparently, canned preparations make the best venison dishes. Who knew?!) Next week, I’ll be tending to the bee hives with Wendy’s sister and we’ll also be making pear and apple cider.
More specifics on Falcon Ridge in a post soon to come!
3) What’s the most interesting place you’ve been?
We had a GREAT time in New Orleans and we absolutely adored Maine and Vermont. But the most interesting place has got to be Stelle, IL. Stelle is a town of just over 100 people, a tiny little island of suburbia in a vast ocean of genetically modified corn and soybean. The town was founded in the 70’s as a closed membership intentional community and it has a fascinating, complex backstory, as evidenced by the NY Times piece on the town. At its heart is a group of people who came together in search of community – a place where they could raise children, engage in life-long learning and live in concert with their values which seemed to clash with mainstream culture. It has since evolved substantially and in some of the most interesting ways. Being sustainability oriented from the beginning, they have their own water and sewage treatment plants, a windmill, and the first solar powered phone company! And recently, some of the residents have embraced permaculture with the passion and dedication with which they run their town. Which makes all the sense in the world.
In fact, we were invited to Stelle by Bill Wilson of Midwest Permaculture, an organization that offers several permaculture courses throughout the year, in the town, its fields and orchard each year. Bill has been living in the town since the late 70’s and has evolved right along with it. He runs the permaculture courses and has been actively involved in the community since he moved there. Bill described Stelle as a bridge, and in many, many ways it is. The people who live in Stelle are not radical hippies nor hyper-armed preppers. They and their neighbors are just like you and yours. They just do some things – some extremely important things – in a decidedly non-radical way. Stay tuned for future posts about Stelle. There are bound to be more than one!
4) Where do you go next?
In about a week, we go to Millsap Farm, near Springfield, MO for two weeks. After that, we plan on making our much-postponed trip to TN to visit the world-famous intentional community and midwifery center, The Farm (and Graceland). After Tennessee, we have yet to pin down the specifics. We hope to continue WWOOFing thru the first week of November and then make our way back to LA for the holidays. Our current plan has us heading north through California after New Year’s and then on to the northwest, and then thru the plains states before heading down to Colorado and New Mexico. 2014 also calls (hopefully) for a trip to Europe. We gave ourselves a year and a half for the learning / WWOOFing/ traveling chapter of our plan. So that means that by November of next year, we will be heading to our region of choice to start looking for a piece of property. Yes, that’s more than a year away and I cannot wait to start working on our site! Welcome to my daily internal battle. (Oh, that I had more patience!!)
5) Is your ultimate goal still the same or have you been swayed by your experience so far?
We are still planning on building the retreat center and assembling a community of like-minded folks to share in the project. With every week that passes there are new ideas / dreams / images about how to design the main buildings, our house, the gardens, the animal pens. It’s such an exciting, creative process to be in right now, I can’t imagine what it will be like when we finally have a chance to put shovels in the ground. I guess that point will be two to three years from now. I hope that I will have mastered Patience by then. And I know JC does too!
We’re ready to answer more questions! Just post them in the comments section and we’ll get right back to you!